WSGS 201 Contemporary Studies in Women's Studies & Gender Studies
WSGS 201: Contemporary Issues in Women’s Studies/Gender Studies
Issues in Feminism – Intersecting Gender
Spring Semester 2014
Instructor: Dr. Caterina Romeo
Class: M 10:00am-12:30pm
Office hours: M 1:00-2:00pm
This course starts from the assumption that gender is a social construction – which means that it is not determined by biological differences, but rather by the ways in which these differences are socialized – and explores how gender difference has determined unequal power relations in society, history, and culture. By introducing the notion of intersectionality, a methodology that possibly constitutes one of gender studies' greatest contribution to contemporary cultural debate, we will then analyze how gender cannot be examined in a void, but needs instead to be considered in its intersection with other factors such as ethnicity, race, class, sexual orientations, citizenship, geography, religion, and so on. We will explore these intersections through critical and theoretical texts informed by different approaches that include cultural studies, critical race theory, postcolonial studies, and queer theory, and we will examine literary and cinematic texts in which multiple intersections are represented and different methodologies and approaches are deployed. Special attention will be devoted to the intersection of gender with race and sexual orientation.
* Joan Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category"
* Meghan Cope, "Feminist Epistemology in Geography"
* Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
* Kimberle Crenshaw, "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against
Women of Color"
* Kathy Davis," Intersectionality as Buzzword: A Sociology of Science Perspective on What Makes a
Feminist Theory Successful"
*Alice Walker, "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens"
* bell hooks, “Racism and Feminism: The Issue of Accountability”
* Sara Ahmed, "Phenomenology of Whiteness"
* Thomas Guglielmo, “No Color Barrier”: Italians, Race, and Power in the United States”
* Kym Ragusa, The Skin Between Us
* Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
* Chandra Talpade Mohanty, "Under Western Eyes"
* One Short Story, TBA
* Judith Butler, Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire
* Ann Fausto Sterling, The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough
* Michael Warner, The Trouble with Normal, Chapter
* Judith Halberstam, text TBA
* Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues
* Two films TBA
I will call attendance at the beginning of each class. You are allowed to miss two classes. If you miss three classes, your grade will be lowered one full grade. If you miss four, you automatically fail the course. Coming to class later than ten minutes will equal one-half of an absence. Chronic lateness will affect your final grade.
Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Plagiarism is presenting the words or ideas of another author as your own. When using a source, please cite it correctly. If you use the words from another's work, put quotation marks around the quote and cite your source. If you paraphrase another's work, you must also cite the source. Plagiarism also includes incorrectly or insufficiently cited material. (If you are not sure whether or not you should cite a source, cite it). For further information, pls. go to http://www.luc.edu/academics/catalog/undergrad/reg_academicintegrity.shtml
This course will be run as a seminar. I will contextualize the discussion and provide, when relevant, background information. You are required to do all the readings and actively engage in class discussion. You will be required to write one analytical paper and three response papers.
Your final grade will consist of the following:
- 1. Class Discussion and Participation: (20%)
You are required to attend every class and to participate actively. Since our class is based on discussion, we will create a comfortable environment and inform our discussion in the respect of different opinions. Prepare for class discussion by reading carefully the text at home, by taking notes on the main ideas, whether or not you agree with the text’s central argument, in what way the argument changes your perspective of a particular problem. Be ready to share your findings with the rest of the class.
- 2. Response Papers: (3 x 10% each = 30%)
At three points in the semester you will be asked to write a 2-3-page paper in response to some of our readings. Papers are due at the beginning of class. No late papers will be accepted. The topics of the papers will be announced to you well in advance. Mere summary of the text will be considered inadequate. In your paper you should analyze the issues you are focusing on and draw connections between your subject and ideas that have emerged during class discussion. Deadlines for handing in the papers are indicated in the class schedule.
3. Oral Presentation and Facilitating Group Discussion (20%)
In each class, a group of students (2-3) will present on the assigned reading for that day and coordinate class discussion. On the second day of class you will be asked to sign up for a date so that you can start working with your group and organize work. You can use film clips, videos, power point, hand-outs, or other material. Please come to class with relevant and provocative questions that are likely to spark a lively discussion. When you prepare for coordinating class discussion consider that you can include also texts we have previously read or topics we have previously addressed.
4. Final Research Paper (30 %)
A 6-7-page paper that you are required to write on TWO texts (not included in your oral presentation or response papers). No late papers will be accepted. This is a critical essay in which you will apply the theories we have studied to literary and cinematic text. This paper is due on April 28.
Paper Format and Evaluation of Papers
Please note that all of your papers have to be type-written in Times New Roman 12 font or equivalent, double-spaced, and should have one-inch margins. Please staple. All your written assignments should be proofread and free of grammatical and spelling errors.
Papers will be so evaluated:
A – papers that include interpretation, personal elaboration, and connection of the material to other readings;
B – papers that interpret and explain the material;
C – papers that clearly present and summarize the readings:
D – papers in which the main argument is presented unclearly:
E – papers in which the main argument is not understood or present at all.
1 - January 20 Course introduction
Film screening: TBA
2 - January 27 Joan Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category"
Meghan Cope, "Feminist Epistemology in Geography"
3 - February 3 Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own
4 - February 10 Kimberle Crenshaw, "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color"
Kathy Davis," Intersectionality as Buzzword: A Sociology of Science Perspective on What Makes a Feminist Theory Successful"
First response paper is due
5 - February 17 Alice Walker, "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens"
bell hooks, “Racism and Feminism: The Issue of Accountability”
Sara Ahmed, "Phenomenology of Whiteness"
6 - February 24 Thomas Guglielmo,“No Color Barrier”: Italians, Race, and Power in the United States,”
Kym Ragusa, The Skin Between Us
Second response paper is due
7- March 3 Kym Ragusa, The Skin Between Us
MARCH 10 – NO CLASS (Spring Break)
8 - March 17 Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
9 - March 21 Film TBA
(Make up class for April 21)
10 - March 24 Chandra Talpade Mohanty, "Under Western Eyes"
One short story TBA
11 - March 31 Judith Butler, Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire
Ann Fausto Sterling, The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough
Third response paper is due
12 - April 7 Michael Warner, The Trouble with Normal, Chapter
Judith Halberstam, text TBA
Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues
13 - April 14 Leslie Feinberg, Stone Butch Blues
APRIL 21 – NO CLASS (Easter Recess)
APRIL 28 – Final paper is due